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Pinball / Tales of the Arabian Nights

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A big blue genie with a beard? You mean this one?

Narrator: "In ancient Baghdad, a most beautiful princess was imprisoned by the evil genie Saleem Bagazi..."

Tales of the Arabian Nights is a Physical Pinball Table designed by John Popadiuk with artwork by Pat McMahon; it was released by Williams Electronics in 1996.

The game centers around an evil blue genie (Saleem Bagazi) who has kidnapped and imprisoned an Arabian princess; the player is her betrothed, who valiantly sets off to rescue her. With his enchanted scimitar, Aladdin's magic lamp, and his own benevolent jinn, the player must venture into the seven Tales of the Arabian Nights and retrieve a magic jewel from each one. Rub the lamp for magical power, sneak through the harem, and visit the bazaar for useful treasures, but be on the alert for the genie's fireballs. If the player manages to get all seven jewels, he can fight through the genie's skeletal warriors before confronting the scoundrel in a fast-moving battle for the princess.

Tales of the Arabian Nights was designed to draw in beginning and intermediate players, which is subtly reflected in its playfield design and rules. There are only two flippers, one ramp, and a half-dozen key targets (the genie and five "Golden Symbols") that are essential for the player to focus on. Furthermore, most of the seven magic jewels can be collected with as little as two shots, and players could often use a "magic Wish" to skip the Tale and immediately collect the jewel. On the other hand, some elements keep even experienced players on their toes, such as the spinning magic lamp that can send balls in unexpected directions. As such, Tales ended up as the second-most popular pinball game of 1996,note  and remains a perennial favorite among many players.

Digital versions of this table are available for Williams Pinball Classics by Encore Inc. and The Pinball Arcade by FarSight Studios, the latter of which provided this table completely free. Following the removal of the Bally/Williams tables in July 2018, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has replaced Tales of the Arabian Nights as the free table. It later reappeared in Pinball FX 3, as paid DLC for Volume 5.

Tales of the Arabian Nights demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Adaptation Distillation/Compressed Adaptation: The game's treatment of the Arabian Nights. The game's seven modes (Tales) are presumably based on different stories in the Tales, but with various liberties taken:
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Along with the typical ball save, there are Shooting Star posts that pop up and trap the ball above the inlane whenever said ball is about to fall down an outlane. This feature is lit by hitting the left side targets or the targets above the lamp and below the Genie.
  • "Arabian Nights" Days: Played straight.
  • Bedlah Babe: The player's jinn and the princess.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Just to the right of the playfield's magic lamp. The player can request a Wish here, if he has one available, and various bonuses are available after spelling BAZAAR.
    Merchant: "A gift from me to you!"
  • Beard of Evil: The blue genie has one.
  • Benevolent Genie: The jinn who helps the player; it takes on the form of an attractive young woman.
  • Big Bad: The Genie.
  • The Big Race: "The Great Camel Race", which requires the player to race past three other camels.
  • Cap: The game rolls over at one billion points.
  • Crashing Through the Harem: A chance bounce from the jet bumpers could send the ball through a small opening into the Harem; this scores a "Harem Sneak-In", complete with giggling women.
    Girl: "Ooh, you're powerful!"
  • Damsel in Distress
  • Dem Bones: The Wizard Mode begins with a battle against the evil genie's skeletal warriors.
  • Developer's Foresight: If the game fails to trap the ball with the Shooting Star posts and so continues to drain down the outlane, the game gives you the ball back for compensation.
    jinn: "A thousand apologies."
  • Easter Egg: When entering the Bazaar, quickly press both flippers. The fourth time, the merchant will give you a cow worth 1 million points.
  • Easy Level Trick: The player can get the jewel in a Tale either by completing its objective, or — if he has at least one Wish available — asking his jinn to award it instantly.
  • Fireballs: The evil genie throws these at the player from time to time. Throw it back at him for a bonus.
  • Flying Carpet: One of the seven Tales.
  • Genie in a Bottle:
    • The player's jinn lives in one.
    • This is the fate of the evil genie if you defeat him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard/Tennis Boss: Invoked by hitting the genie with the fireball (pinball) he throws at you.
  • Jackass Genie: The evil blue genie, who apparently kidnaps princesses and destroys towns just because he can.
  • Lover Tug of War: Done in the final battle between the genie and the player, with the princess between them.
  • Make a Wish: Spin the magic lamp enough times, then shoot the ball into the Bazaar to choose from one of two items or bonuses.
    jinn: "Your wish is granted."
  • Match Sequence: The player's jinn disappears in a puff of Super Smoke, leaving the match number behind.
  • Mineral MacGuffin/Power Crystal: You need seven of them to power the scimitar against the genie.
  • Mythology Gag: MOVE YOUR CAR... pet.
  • Our Genies Are Different: Played with; most of the popular genie tropes are manifested between the evil genie and the player's helpful jinn, to varying degrees of accuracy.
  • People Jars: The evil genie keeps the princess trapped in a bottle.
  • Pinball Scoring: Averted, as Arabian Nights avoids the score inflation of most other pinballs of its time. A total of 50 million points is considered a great game. WMS' prior game, Attack from Mars, is perhaps the very epitome of this trope.
    • Zig Zagged, as with a certain very specific exploit, you can take Harem Multiball into the Genie Battle. As Harem Multiball is a frenzy (all switches score a certain amount), the frenzy amount increases with each hit to the pop bumpers and you have unlimited balls until you either rescue the princess or the genie seizes her, scores can get quite silly if you use this exploit and run Genie Battle long enough. However, because of the difficulty in even achieving Harem Multiball to begin with (it involves either making a particularly tough orbit shot five times, with said shot usually being overridden by either Tiger Loops or Genie Multiball locks, or a method that involves pure luck) and then surviving the Nintendo Hard first half of the Wizard Mode without draining one of your balls (it's only a 2-ball multiball), this falls squarely into Awesome, but Impractical territory.
    • A similar effect can be achieved by bringing 3x Lightning Lamp into the Genie Battle; it's easier to start that the aforementioned Harem Rescue, but because this requires constantly shooting the lamp while trying to get through the first half of the Genie Battle (so as not to let the Lightning Lamp expire), thus putting the player at constant risk of draining, this is also almost never achieved.
  • Plot Coupon: The seven jewels.
  • Portal Book: The Arabian Nights is implied to be this.
  • Recursive Reality: Scheherazade, the narrator of the Arabian Nights, is herself the subject of one of its Tales.
  • Respawning Enemies: The three skeleton minions the evil genie summons in the first phase of the Wizard Mode are this. Hitting a lit lane eliminates one skeleton, but if you don't hurry to eliminate the other skeletons, they will respawn until three are present once again. The scoring display will show how many of these mooks are left before you can advance to the second phase for a final tug-of-war fight with the genie over the princess.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Defeat the evil genie, and the princess and the hero are shown riding into the sunset on a Flying Carpet.
  • Save the Princess
    Princess: "You're my only hope!"
  • Skill Shot: Launch the ball into one of three baskets; get the right basket to charm the snake and avoid getting bitten.
    • Shoot the ramp after launch for the Super Skill Shot.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Shoot the magic lamp on the playfield to send it spinning and build magic power.
  • Spelling Bonus: The playfield has GENIE (to light the locks for multiball) and BAZAAR (to collect a random bonus), while the "Ali Baba" Tale has SESAME.
  • Super Smoke: Done by both the evil genie and the player's jinn.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement
  • Three Wishes: Averted; the player can save up to three Wishes, but using them does not involve a Reset Button or Freeing the Genie.
  • Wizard Mode: "Genie Battle", which is only available after getting all seven jewels. The player must first fight through the genie's skeletal soldiers by shooting the Golden Symbols on the playfield. After defeating them, a four-ball multiball starts, and the video display shows the trapped princess between the genie and the player. Shoot the Symbols quickly to rescue the princess, defeat the genie, and collect a 20 million point bonus.

Genie: "I challenge you to another game!"